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Olivia Van Ledtje (“LivBit”) and Cynthia Merrill are a mother-daughter team working together to inspire others to think about the power of citizenship online and student voice. They are co-authors of Spark Change: Make Your Mark on the Digital World. They have a surprise in the podcast about what they will be doing next.
Olivia Van Ledtje (“LivBit”)
Liv is a reader, thinker, and kids’ voice believer. Using technology to inspire empathy, equity, and activism, Olivia’s mission is to share messages with the world that are hopeful, kind, and true. Olivia is the creator of LivBits—short videos for kids and teachers about reading, thinking, and life. Her work is featured internationally as a model for digital citizenship and kid creation. Liv is a much sought-after international keynote speaker and author of Spark Change: Make Your Mark on the Digital World with her mum, Cynthia Merrill.
Liv’s Website: http://www.thelivbits.com/
Liv started her passion for books when she was eight years old. At the time we did this podcast, she is 12. It’s amazing to me that she started creating her website when she was 8 years old. In this episode, Liv shares about her love of sharks. Yes, sharks. She learned how to surf and explains why she has no worries about being eaten by sharks. She made me laugh when she said that “humans are the broccoli of the shark world.” Liv loves books and shares books about sharks among a long list of books that she shares in videos and keynote addresses. Did I say that she started when she was 8? She also reached out to authors. Peter Reynolds was the first author who connected the dots for her and picked up her spark to blow it into the universe.
We discussed what it is like to self-isolate during this pandemic. Liv who is a big hugger said that she is staying home to protect her grandma and her parents. I’m staying home and doing all things digital, digital learning. In fact, they were talking about digital learning way before the pandemic and realized that they can teach others how to do this. Liv also explained that she is connecting more with her teachers and other students more than she did before using zoom and other digital tools. In Liv’s words:
“We’ve been talking about teaching online for a long time. I’ve been doing online learning because of my travels with LivBits. Now, during this pandemic, this is tough self-isolating, but it is also a valuable experience that is bringing in all parts of my thinking. I’m doing more zooming in a good way. I’m communicating with my teachers, classmates, and other people around the world.”
Cynthia is a consultant, speaker, and author dedicated to strengthening literacy and tech experiences for all students. She works in diverse school communities through the US coaching, training, and encouraging administrators and teachers in their practices. Cynthia is passionate about creating authentic opportunities for students to document their thinking using tech tools. Cynthia’s book Spark Change: Make Your Mark on the Digital World is co-written with her daughter, Olivia Van Ledtje, creator of LivBits.
Cynthia shares that her biggest claim to fame is that she is Liv’s mom. Liv is her middle child and she has a son who is 14 and a younger daughter who is 8. She has been working with children in higher ed and teachers out in the field for some time. LivBits started with Liv watching Cynthia with her students and wanting to make her own mark. Peter Reynolds @peterhreynolds was the first author that connected with Liv. Cynthia said the most beautiful quote about Peter supporting Liv:
“It’s about connecting our dots and there are so many dots in the constellation. It really only takes one person to say to a child that you are special and what you believe in is special.”
Cynthia shares that with the pandemic, “we initially went into emergency teaching where we were triaging everything. What was different for us was our entire family was in the same space and we were all figuring it out together. This is such an incredible opportunity for us to reflect on the power of pieces of tech that we never imagined would become so useful in connecting our hearts.”
Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World
Check out the list of books Liv pulled together. bit.ly/allrisetoread #ALLRISE
This was such a fun podcast with Liv and Cynthia. I hope you enjoy our conversation and check out all their amazing resources and book. Enjoy and please share!!
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
Go to this page for resources, questions, and more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY.